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 A notarized letter from Gary A. McDaniel confirms that the
revolver and holster rig were given to Merrifield by Theodore Roosevelt
while they were ranching partners and the watch was given to him “in appreciation for a successful grizzly bear
hunting trip in the early 1880s” per their family history and that his mother, Blanche McDaniel, learned of
their history directly from Bill Merrifield and her father and that she sold the items to their family friend Stephan A. Grove in 1996.
A letter from Grove is also included confirming the same details. These provenance details are contained within the massive trove of
documents and images relating to the revolver’s provenance, Merrifield, and Theodore Roosevelt, including original letters and envelopes addressed to Merrifield from Sagamore Hill and the White House that were kept by Merrifield’s family as well as copies of additional letters, original prints from the period (including J. Ludovici boudoir cards of Roosevelt
in western dress with his Colt revolver and Winchester Model 1876), cabinet cards of life on Roosevelt’s ranches, and other related images. The documentation also includes copies historical research by Blanche Merrifield McDaniel and photographs of the items when
$150 or a gold watch in return, and Merrifield selected a watch, the very watch in this lot which is inscribed with a quote from Merrifield
during the hunt: “If it’s a black bear, I can tree him. If it’s a grizzly, I can bay him.”
Roosevelt’s years in the West were formative and played a significant role
in his life, including his formation and leadership of the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War and his conservation efforts as president. Roosevelt came to the West for the first time for his hunting trips in 1883 and then came back and forth from his home in New York to his ranches. Two days after the birth of their daughter Alice, Roosevelt first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, died from kidney failure on February 14, 1884, just hours after his mother died from typhoid fever. Roosevelt was understandable despondent and famously wrote, “The light has gone out of my life.” He soon became disillusioned with politics in the East and headed West.
He had partnered with Merrifield at the Chimney Butte Ranch in the
Dakota Territory on the Little Missouri River along with Merrifield’s partner Sylvane Ferris and invested large amounts of money into cattle. The ranch became known as the Maltese Cross Ranch after Roosevelt’s cattle brand
and was soon followed by his larger Elkhorn Ranch which Merrifield
and Ferris also soon managed. Roosevelt published “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman” in 1885. Though he reveled in ranch life, hunting, and writing, Roosevelt could not stay out of politics and helped form the Little Missouri Stockmen’s Association and also founded the Boone & Crockett Club to support conservation and also served as a deputy sheriff. Following his marriage to Edith Kermit Carow, his childhood friend, Roosevelt spent
most of his time in the East, but he remained in contact with Merrifield
and his other friends in the West and soon engaged in writing “Ranch Life
and the Hunting Trail” published in 1888 and his four volume history of American westward expansion “The Winning of the West” in 1889-1896. He
also wrote additional books relating to hunting in the West, including “The Wilderness Hunter” and “American Big Game Hunting” in 1893. His friend Merrifield and their hunts together are naturally referenced in these books.
For example, in “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman” Roosevelt wrote, “If I do not
go alone I generally go with one of my foremen, Merrifield...He is a good- looking fellow, daring and self-reliant, a good rider and first-class shot, and
a very keen sportsman. Of late years he has been my fidus Achates of the hunting field. I can kill more game with him than I can alone...” In the book
he writes of the two men pursuing various game, especially their bear
hunting adventures in the latter portion of the book.
Life in the West was not all adventurous treks in search of game. The
cattle business also included hard work and real hardships. The winter of 1886-1887 was particularly harsh and became known as “The Great Die
Up” do to the large number of cattle killed. Roosevelt wrote that his own
losses were crippling. He closed the Elkhorn Ranch in 1887. Merrifield and Ferris continued to manage Roosevelt’s herd. In an included letter from Sagamore Hill dated Oct. 13th, 1889, Roosevelt wrote to Merrifield telling
him of the birth of his new son (Kermit) and noting his regret of Merrifield’s
loss running for political office but noted that the loss was greater for
the state than for Merrifield and also asked about cattle shipments and payment. The letter is signed, “Your friend, Theodore Roosevelt.” Merrifield remained on working the herd for a few more years and finally sold out
in the early 1890s and moved to Montana where he established his own
ranch at the headwaters of the Kooteni River on Pleasant Valley Creek and
later formed the Pleasant Valley Land & Cattle Company in 1901 and served
as its general manager while Ferris continued to manage the former herd
in the Dakota Territory. 87
they were in her possession.
Bill Merrifield, Rancher and U.S. Marshal in the American West and Personal Friend of President Theodore Roosevelt:
Arthur William “Bill” Merrifield was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1855 and married Harriet E. Jemison in Grenville County, Ontario, Canada, in 1878. She tragically died in 1880 not long after the birth of their only child, Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Merrifield (1879-1972). By that time, he was already working with Sylvane and Joseph Ferris in the Dakota Territory, so his son was left in Canada with family for education and later emigrated to the U.S. Theodore Roosevelt came to Dakota Territory
for the first time in September of
1883 to hunt buffalo and soon made friends and business partners out of the initially skeptical pioneers. It was Merrifield who took Roosevelt on some of his first hunts in the West, including his first grizzly bear hunt
in 1884 in the Bighorn Mountains, during which Merrifield tracked the first grizzly Roosevelt shot. The bear was reported to be nine feet and over 1,000 pounds. Roosevelt offered him

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